Updated: Dec 10, 2019
My husband and I recently had a conversation (perhaps our 1000th in 26 years of marriage!) about our different thresholds for clutter. While he can definitely live with more than is comfortable for me, it is also true that he often finds himself unhappy with the state of his desk at the office and his basement workroom at home. His perspective on the reasons for this is very interesting to me--both from the angle of reducing stress in our relationship and as a way to better understand and help my clients.
Working with folks from all walks of life, men and women, ages 19 - 90 I've witnessed a lot of different reasons people find themselves in a home that is disorganized and that makes them unhappy. But underneath all these reasons frequently is a terrible little companion called ANXIETY. My husband validated my experience with his own self-examination about clutter in his life.
Organizing our spaces involves making a lot of decisions about our stuff. Deciding what to do with things can feel very overwhelming and induce feelings of uncertainty:
What do I do with it?
Do I need to keep it?
Where should I store it?
What if I get rid of it and need it later?
What if I put it away someplace and then can't find it when I need it?
There's so much stuff to sort and organize how am I ever going to get through it all?
Anxiety can be crippling, paralyzing and keep us from doing things we know deep down we want to do. Anxiety is real and it is challenging. But I'm here to tell you it CAN be overcome. You can tell your mind to stop tricking you into believing the anxiety is in charge. Deep breaths, baby steps, and a family member or friend (or me!) in your corner cheering you and encouraging you can be tremendously helpful. Don't be afraid to seek professional help if you need it--I know lots of therapists I can refer you to if you're interested.
One piece of advice directly from my husband is this: Doing nothing, continuing to live with your space cluttered and disorganized, only makes the anxiety worse. So, take one small step. Do one thing today to begin making those decisions and organizing your space. You'll be so happy that you did!